Professor Hayduk Discusses Voting Rights for Noncitizens

Wednesday, March 01, 2017
TRUTH OUT -- Moreover, the measure reestablishes a right that noncitizens previously enjoyed for most of U.S. history: In 40 states and federal territories, they were allowed to vote until the 1920s, when a large wave of Eastern European immigrants moved to the country, said Ron Hayduk, an associate professor of political science at San Francisco State University and author of “Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights in the United States. The new residents were darker-skinned, practiced different religions, and had unfamiliar cultural practices compared to earlier Western European immigrants. Rising xenophobia followed projections at the time that the population would increasingly become nonwhite. “Sound familiar?” asked Hayduk. Just as in the 1920s, voting rights still serve as a battleground. “If you can shape the scope of who gets the vote, you can shape who gets elected and thereby influence what policies get ” Hayduk said. The issue of noncitizen voting rights also raises questions about American identity and values. “This question about immigrant voting cuts to the heart of those questions: Who’s a member? Who's a legitimate stakeholder?” Hayduk said. “What does it say about cherished American ideals such as ‘no taxation without representation’? What's the nature of a democracy if portions of the population are excluded?”